The new line-up of Asus’s ZenBook laptops acts as a kind of midway point between the high-end ZenBook Pro, the more entry-level ZenBook S and the creative-focused ZenBook Flip series.  

Lacking the video touchpad of the ZenBook Pro, the ZenBook is nonetheless a powerful offering with the option to add a dedicated graphics card if you want to do some gaming or photo editing. Prices and release dates for the UK are still TBC – in lieu of a full review, here’s how I got on.

Design

The whole ZenBook range is pretty stylish. The first thing to note is the commitment to keeping a high screen-to-body ratio of 92%, which is achieved by the side 3mm bezels. Asus calls this ‘NanoEdge’, but that’s just really a fancy way of saying ‘a very thin bezel’.

Then there’s something called ‘ErgoLift’, which is not as throwaway a name as it might sound once you realise what it means. The hinges of the ZenBook are shaped in such a way that when you open one, it has the effect of lifting the laptop’s posterior up off of the surface of your desk by an angle of 3 degrees.

This sees the keys angled towards your hands at a more gentle angle, which supposedly makes it nicer to type on.

Admittedly, I don’t think that I spent enough time typing on the ZenBook 15 to say whether it offers a truly excellent typing experience on par with Dell’s maglev keys, but it felt comfortable enough. More to the point, when I returned to typing on a flat, non-ErgoLifted keyboard later on, I had to concede that, yeah, maybe Asus’s engineers do have a point here.

The trick with the hinge also serves a couple of other purposes. As the back of the ZenBook’s base isn’t emitting heat straight into your desk, it ostensibly has the effect of improving airflow around the laptop’s hot bits.

If that wasn’t enough, Asus claims this feature also ensures that any audio emitted by the downward-pointing Harmon Kardon-certified speakers won’t be immediately absorbed by your desktop. Quite what this means for watching TV in bed is another thing though.

Then there’s the colours: beautiful deep blue and silver coloured cases are complimented nicely by rose gold accents. Weighing 1.59kg, the ZenBook 15 isn’t as light as some of the other skinny laptops we’ve seen at IFA 2018, but it perhaps proves that you can make very swish-looking machines without having to obsessively (and predictably) whittle away a millimetre here, a millimetre there every year.

Specifications

ZenBook 15 (UX533FD)
Display 15.6-inch FHD, 15.6-inch 4K (3820 x 2160)
CPU Intel Core i7-8565U, Core i5-8265U
Graphics Nvidia GTX 1050 Max-Q, 2GB/4GB GDDR5 VRAM,
Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory 8GB / 16GB 2400MHz DDR4
Storage 1TB PCIe 3.0 x4 SSD / 512GB/256GB PCIe 3.0 x2 SSD
Wireless Connectivity Dual-band 802.11ac gigabit-class Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0
Ports USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C (display support), USB Type-A (up to 10Gbps), USB Type-A (up to 5Gbps)HDMI, SD card reader, 3.5mm headphone jack
Battery 73Wh 4-cell lithium-polymer,Up to 116 hours battery life
Dimensions 354 x 220 x 17.9mm
Weight 1.59kg

 

Price

Prices for the ZenBook 15 have not been released by Asus yet, but representatives have previously told Trusted Reviews that the ZenBook Pro should cost something in the region of £1900/$2470-£2200/$2860. Given that the Pro is slightly more highly specced and that Screenpad must add a bit to the manufacturing costs, we think that the ZenBook 15 will be somewhere south of this.

Release date

Asus has not yet announced when the ZenBook 15 will be available to buy.

The ZenBook 15 is so slim that you'l easily fit it in your bag

First impressions

The Asus ZenBook 15 is very nice-looking indeed and though hands-on time was limited to the point where I couldn’t do much more than browse the web and watch some YouTube clips, I’ve already seen some of what a Whiskey Lake-powered laptop can do in terms of fast file transfer over gigabit Wi-Fi. The claim of 16 hours battery life is also impressive, one which we can’t wait to put to the test. As much as I suspected that the ErgoLift hinge was just a bit of fancy branding, I have to admit that the ZenBook is very nice to type on and that might in part have something to do with the angle of the board. While colour isn’t important, it is also great to see attention to detail here, something that isn’t the same old black/grey/white variations.

(trustedreviews.com, http://bit.ly/2ND8smi)